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Education for the Future (1967)

Courtesy of Derrick Knight

Main image of Education for the Future (1967)
Tx. 8/11/1967, 10 mins, black and white
DirectorDerrick Knight
Production CompanyDerrick Knight & Partners
SponsorsThe Labour Party
 British Council

Mr. Rowe, headmaster of David Lister High School, Hull, outlines the benefits of the comprehensive schools system.

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In 1967, filmmaker Derrick Knight was asked by the Labour Party press office to produce three party political broadcasts. It had booked three ten-minute slots on television but had no idea on how to fill them. With Harold Wilson firmly in power after the 1966 general election, there was a dearth of burning issues that lent themselves to a television presentation. Knight suggested a trilogy of films on a subject that he felt was a real talking point in society: education. He proposed one film on primary education, another on comprehensive schools and a third on retraining schemes for workers made redundant as a result of technological change. Although Knight was prepared to cut down the production costs to the bare minimum, Labour could only afford two films. Therefore the film on primary schools was dropped.

The film about comprehensive schools, Education for the Future, was shot at the David Lister High School in Kingston upon Hull. Its headmaster Albert Rowe was a charismatic teacher and author of a book with the telling title The Education of the Average Child (1959). Rowe passionately believed in the merits of the comprehensive system, which had received a boost as a result of instruction from Anthony Crosland, Secretary of State for Education in the Labour government, to local education authorities to plan for the conversion of their schools. The system faced considerable resistance, though, by opponents who feared that it would result in a lowering of academic standards.

Education for the Future set out to answer these critics by showing the modern aids and new didactic methods being used at the David Lister School. Different stylistic approaches, such as hand-held camera with synch sound, interview and voice-over commentary, are successfully blended into a concise showpiece for comprehensive education. Only at the very end of the film does a voice-over reveal the Labour Party support for the comprehensive system.

Derrick Knight suggested to the Labour Party that a more thorough 20-minute film could be made, which would have a very wide distribution and would boost its image. But he was told that there was no money. Knight was, however, able to persuade the sponsor to allow him to remove the Labour Party signature at the end of the film and to distribute it through Concord Film Council. They agreed and hundreds of copies were rented and sold.

Bert Hogenkamp

*This film is included in the BFI DVD compilation 'Shadows of Progress: Documentary Film in Post-War Britain 1951-1977'.

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. Educational equality (1:55)
2. Opportunities (1:55)
3. Power over language (2:05)
4. Acceptance, not rejection (2:37)
Complete film (9:55)
Postwar Documentary